Soccer News of Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Accra, Jan. 29, GNA - Tournament favourites, Cote d'Ivoire edged Mali out of the competition with a 3-0 trouncing in the last Group B" match played at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra on Tuesday. Mali, who had the qualification in their hands and needed only a draw to sail to the knockout stage, rather adopted a lukewarm approach to the game and deserved the exit.
The defeat of the Malians has thus paved the way for Nigeria to advance to the next stage of the competition with superior goal aggregate after they beat Benin 2-0 at Essipong stadium, near Sekondi. With a seemingly second string side, following the absence of regulars like Boka Arthur, Kolo Toure, Aruna Dindane and Salomon Kalou, the Ivorians went ahead in the eighth minute through their inspirational skipper Didier Drogba.
The skipper was located deep in the defence of Mali by a Yaya Toure pass and he wasted no time shooting past keeper Mahamadou Sidibe. The Malians, however, seemed not bothered by the opener but failed to apply the needed seriousness as they allowed the Ivorians to dictate the pace of the game.
The only moment they came close in the half was in the 43rd minute when Seydou Keita's well cut cross to an unimpressive Fredrick Kanoute was cleared off danger by the Ivorian defence. Just around the same time in the second half, the Ivorians recorded their second goal in the 53rd minute.
Marc Zoro rose above the lethargic defence of Mali to head home freely, a cross from Abdul Kader Keita. Drogba should have fetched the third goal three minute later, but his header from Kader Keita's header was scooped out of post to keep the score line intact.
It was, however, the Ivorians, who sustained the pressure on the Malians and continued to create clear-cut goal scoring chances but failed to convert them into goals.
Keita, who was voted Samsung Fair Play player of the match, had his cross bounce off the crossbar in the 67th minute. Zoro again came close to scoring but was denied by the alertness of keeper Sidibe, who parried his header out of the post in the 75th minute.
Five minute later, the Ivorians sealed victory, courtesy a well executed rebound by substitute Boubacar Sanongo, after keeper Sidibe had failed to make a first time grab of Toure's shot.
It was after the third goal that it dawned on the Malians that they were on their way out and they began to bestir themselves but it was too late for them to make any significant impact on the game. Emerse Fae of Cote d'Ivoire was adjudged the MTN man of the match.
Line Up: Cote d'Ivoire - Boubacar Barry, Didier Zakora, Emerse Fae, Arouna Kone, Didier Drogba/Boubacar Sanongo, Koffi N Dri, Siaka Tienne, Abdul Kader Keita/Bakari Kone, Emmanuel Eboue, Marc Zoro.
Mali - Mahamadou Sidibe, Adama Tamboura, Adam Coulibally/Mamadou Diallo, Bassala Toure/Mahamadou Dissa, Dramane Traore, Djibrile Sidibe, Seydou Keita, Drissa Diakite, Cedric Kante, Sammy Traore, Fredrick Kanoute/Mohamed Sisoko. 29 Jan. 08